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Bohnanza

Will you donate your beans to a player in need or wheel and deal?

Rio Grande’s classic card game puts you in the role of bean farmer. Negotiation with other players is key, if you don't want to be forced into wasting beans and losing money.

Gameplay

Players are bean farmers and each player starts the game with two empty bean fields and five cards. You cannot rearrange the cards in your hand and must keep them in the order they have been dealt.

On your turn you must play the first card in your hand, planting it in one of your fields. You then draw two cards from the deck and lay them face up on top of the table. You can either trade or donate one or both of these cards to one or more players. If they are not traded or donated, you keep them. You can also trade or donate any other cards in your hand.

After the trading, all traded or donated cards are planted in fields of the players who now own them. If you kept one or both of the cards you drew, you plant those as well. When planting cards, if a field already has a bean in it, you may only plant matching beans in that same field. If both your fields are full and you have to plant a bean, you must sell all the beans in one field to clear it out. On each bean card, it says how much gold you earn based on the number of beans you are selling. For instance, if you sell two red beans, you earn one gold coin. If you sell six chili beans, you earn two. Each bean has a minimum amount you need to sell in order to make any money, so you may be forced into selling beans for nothing. When you sell beans, you flip over a bean card for each gold coin you earn, place those in your money pile, and discard the rest.

Once players have planted their donated/traded beans, the active player draws three new cards, one at a time, placing them at the back of his hand and his turn ends. At any time, players can sell the beans in their fields or spend three of their gold coins to purchase a third bean field.

Players go through the draw deck three times and then the game ends. The player with the most gold wins the game.

                       Bohnanza Components

Review

Negotiation is a mechanic that can be hard to get right in games. It can drag things down or leave players in a deadlock. But in Bohnanza it creates almost a cooperative feel to the game. It’s in everyone’s interests to work together, trading and donating, because everyone is going to have a card they want to get rid of somewhere down the line.

The game is simple to teach and learn, with straightforward rules. Players are usually involved with little downtime and you need to plan one step ahead, trying to decide who to trade your unwanted cards to or when to just straight-up donate them! Players never have to accept a donation, so there’s an extra element of strategy involved as you try to work together, with other players, to get the cards you want and get rid of the cards you don’t, but try to stay one step ahead of them in gold total. It’s hard to know when not to cooperate.

As with all negotiation games, some turns can get bogged down and you need to play with the right group — but Bohnanza has a lovely wide player range, making it good for various sizes of game nights, and while the box recommends it for players thirteen and older, younger children should be able to grasp the basics fairly easily.

Bohnanza makes for a solid addition to a game collection. Great for newcomers to gaming and veterans alike, it’s a good negotiation game, with interesting mechanics and a strangely cooperative feel to an overall competitive game.

Pros: Good for families, wide player number, great negotiation mechanics

Cons: Turns can get bogged down during negotiation

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.